I can honestly say that I’m never as excited about a book as I am when a new volume of Mouse Guard arrives at my local comic shop. I’ve been reading since the first volume dropped, but I’ve been anticipating since I saw the beautiful cover of the very first issue of Mouse Guard, and I’ve never been disappointed. For those that are unaware, Mouse Guard is essentially The Lord of the Rings with Mice, but without the magic and elves and talking trees and stuff. The original series follows three specific Guardsmice and their epic tales.
The original title was so popular and critically acclaimed that we are now privileged with a spin-off series, Legends of the Guard, collected in this first volume. Legends of the Guard differs from the original series in that rather than focus on one story, and a specific cast of characters, instead we’re treated to the many legends that make up the rich world of Mouse Guard. What makes this even better is that every legend is presented by a different artist, handpicked by the series creator, David Peterson. Each artist was given the chance to tell their own legend, and illustrate it in their own style, leading to an amazing anthology collection that definitely lives up to the standard set by Peterson in the regular continuity.
There’s not much to say about the story, as each one is self-contained and separate, but there is one through-line to the series. Peterson writes and illustrates the overarching narrative, using a tavern and it’s occupants to tie the legends together. Each story is presented by a patron of the tavern, adding to the richness of their world. Not only are the stories themselves interesting and beautiful in their own respects, but the overarching narrative introduces a link to the continuity and the personalities of the characters telling the stories. Few anthologies that have tried to weave their stories together have done it with such eloquence.
Peterson’s work is definitely what stands out for me here, but some of the guest artists have created truly inspirational work in this book. Karl Kerschl, in particular, creates a beautifully lyrical story without ever writing a word. Terry Moore does a great job in capturing the fun and fantasy of the original series with her amazing art. Craig Rousseau and Jason Shawn Alexander both take existing tales and adapt them to the Mouse Guard world in truly clever and poignant fashion, respectively. Every artist has taken the time to immerse themselves in the world of Mouse Guard for this book, and it speaks to the talent of David Peterson, who created such a rich and wonderful playground for these artists to jump into.
I can’t recommend this book enough, and if you haven’t read either of the previous Mouse Guard books, I suggest you do so and add it to your pull list, saver, box or what-have-you, post haste! This is a series that is not to be missed, and I for one, eagerly anticipate the next installment.